Voyage into The Lost Tomb Series

N/A: Welcome to this guide about The Lost Tomb! Before we begin, please keep in mind that all the information below comes from what I observed as I watched the series, chatted with fans, went through MDL comments, and so on. Therefore, everything written down below refers to the drama adaptations and not the books.

This guide is going to be a bit long, so here’s a quick table of contents:

That being said, let’s get this show on the road!


What’s The Lost Tomb?

It’s a series of dramas and films adapted from a 9-book novel series entitled Daomu Biji (“Tomb-Robber Chronicles”). The instalments come out following no particular logic or order (the spinoffs have spinoffs…), which can get very confusing for newcomers.

The Lost Tomb Reboot Opening

What is it about? A group of friends who explore ancient tombs and must survive the deadly traps and lethal monsters lurking there. If you like The Mummy, Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones, this should be the perfect fit for you. And if, like me, you don’t actually like these things, then you might love The Lost Tomb anyway.

Fun fact: I’ve noticed that most of the time, the actors who’ve played the two main characters have experienced a sudden increase in popularity almost immediately after. This is true for Cheng Yi, Yang Yang, Hou Ming Hao,… and I’m holding my breath that the same happens for Xiao Yu Liang, who makes for an exceptional Xiao Ge.

I’ll be the first to admit that these series don’t exactly shine for their production values, screenwriting or even their actors’ skills (a few exceptions notwithstanding, of course). In fact, the golden rule when you get into this universe is as follows: never ever try to find any logic in the plot or the characters’ actions, because there isn’t any. Which is fine, you get used to it, and it’s actually part of the series’ charm.

No, what I love the most in this saga, apart from its fascinating universe and tomb-exploring, is that you never fail to recognize the characters from one instalment to another. Through actor changes and character growth, there’s a consistency to them which means that you never lose them. It’s particularly remarkable when it comes to Wu Xie, who changes the most from one season to another.

The Lost Tomb 3 - Ultimate Note Wu Xie

The Lost Tomb is a fun time, a character who dedicates himself to losing his shirt at least once a season, ancient tombs riddled with traps and mysterious natural light, monsters, a ton of talking here and there, and a lot of laughter. A lot.

And some tears besides, too.

The Lost Tomb PingXie

Main Characters

Wu Xie

Wu Xie’s the grandson of a famous tomb-robber. He’s a regular architecture student when he discovers an artefact that leads him on a wild quest for a lost tomb. He’s unaware, at that point, that this adventure will turn his life upside-down. And while his opponents will turn out to be merciless, he’ll also form unbreakable bonds with the fun-loving Pang Zi and the mysterious Zhang Qi Ling.

Wu Xie is a very bright person. He’s very inexperienced, if not naive, at the beginning, and deeply kind at heart, which turns him into a human magnet of sorts. Few can resist “The Wu Xie effect”, and it’s actually one of the highlights of the show to see people succumb to it one after another. For all his gentle temperament, however, it’s better not to push Wu Xie too much, because once he snaps, he’ll unleash the whole power of his brain and pettiness on his enemies, and dish some very, very satisfying payback.

The Lost Tomb 2 Hou Ming Hao as Wu Xie

Zhang Qi Ling/Xiao Ge

Commonly nicknamed “Xiao Ge” (小哥), Zhang Qi Ling is an amnesiac tomb-explorer with unrivaled fighting prowess. His apparent youth is deceiving, as he’s well over a hundred years old, and his fingers, which are longer than most, allow him to deactivate traps and trigger hidden mechanisms.

Although he seldom speaks, he’s fiercely protective of Wu Xie, whom he has a very deep bond with, and considers as his only tie to the human world.

The Lost Tomb 2 Cheng Yi as Xiao Ge

Wang Pang Zi

Pang Zi is the last member of the Iron Triangle. He’s a bit loud, a bit obnoxious, very fun to be around, and has a lot of experience in tomb-robbing. More than that, he’s unshakably loyal to both Wu Xie and Xiao Ge, who can often be seen smiling softly to himself in the background at the general silliness going on at the front.

The Lost Tomb 2 Pang Zi "Courage, fuyons!"

Recurring Characters

Wu San Xing/”San Shu”

Wu San Xing is Wu Xie‘s third uncle. He’s constantly exploring and getting himself into trouble, and usually the one triggering Wu Xie‘s adventures, since the poor boy must go find/rescue/clean up after him. Like his brother and nephew, he’s extremely intelligent and loves to drive Wu Xie crazy through cryptic hints and constant vanishing acts.

Wu Er Bai/”Er Shu”

Wu Xie‘s second uncle. Although he rarely leaves Hangzhou, Wu Er Bai is a powerful man with a razor-sharp mind. Him not interfering in his brother and nephew’s affairs doesn’t mean he’s not aware of them, however, and he’s always ready to step in should people start threatening them a little too much for his taste. Just like Wu Xie, better not push him too far, or there will be hell to pay.

Xiao Hua/Xie Yu Chen

Nicknamed “Xiao Hua” (“Little Flower”) by Wu Xie as a kid, Xie Yu Chen has been the Xie Clan Head since he was eight. He’s capable of making brutal decisions to ensure the well-being of his people and loved ones, and is a trained fighter. As a consequence, he always wears soft colors (white, pastel blues and pinks) to try and look harmless. He’s passionate about Beijing Opera, and a faithful ally to Wu Xie.

Hei Xia Zi/Hei Yan Jing/Black Glasses

He’s a mysterious mercenary who wears sunglasses 24/7, whatever the weather. He likes to tease and joke, but he’s actually a very strong fighter, almost on par with Xiao Ge.

A-Ning

A-Ning’s a seasoned tomb-explorer who works for the enigmatic Qiu De Kao (also referred to as “Cox Hendry”). Although she starts out as Wu Xie‘s opponent, she soon grows to like him in spite of everything, which leads them to work together on several occasions.

Huo Xiu Xiu

Xiu Xiu’s the heir to another of the Mystic Nine families: the Huo Clan. Athough she rarely participates in Wu Xie and Xiao Hua‘s expeditions, she’s a strong ally of theirs and a trained fighter.

A Few Terms…

PingXie

Meng You Ping x Wu Xie.

Meng You Ping is another one of Xiao Ge‘s nicknames. It means “Poker Face”. This ship is very popular (and pretty much canon at this point, honestly). Given those two’s tendency to just stare soulfully into each other’s eyes for long minutes on end, it’s difficult to believe they’re just friends or brothers. You’ll see.

The Lost Tomb 2 PingXie

HeiHua

Hei Xiazi x Xiao Hua

Although Hei Xiazi and Xiao Hua hardly interact in most of the seasons of The Lost Tomb, their ship is nothing new, so I’m fairly sure there must be something in the books. As it is, though, their dynamics in Ultimate Note are a delight to watch.

The Lost Tomb 3 - Ultimate Note HeiHua

The Iron Triangle

This refers to the group comprised of Wu Xie, Xiao Ge and Pang Zi, who became legends in their field after their many adventures.

The Lost Tomb Reboot Iron Triangle Smiling
Gif by @Ohsehuns

The peculiarity of The Lost Tomb

You’ll have noticed, at this point, that each character has several faces. This is because the cast changes with every season, which makes it even more difficult to understand what’s going on, especially when the seasons don’t release in chronological order.

Therefore, here’s a short guide of the main series in the universe listed in chronological order, with their specificities.

0.5. The Mystic Nine (2016)

The Mystic Nine Poster

Yes, you’re reading this correctly: the prequel came out a year after season 1. The Mystic Nine takes place 50 years before the main series, and follows the regular cast’s ancestors. That’s to say that Wu Xie, Xiao Ge and Pang Zi don’t feature in it.

Starring: William Chan, LAY, Zanilia Zhao, Crystal Yuan
Number of episodes: 48

1. The Lost Tomb (2015)

The Lost Tomb Poster

This is where it all begins.

Book Adapted: 1
Starring: Li Yi Feng, Yang Yang, Tiffany Tang
Number of Episodes: 10
My Review: here
PingXie Levels: ★★★☆☆
HeiHua Levels: ☆☆☆☆☆
My Grade: ★☆☆☆☆

2. The Lost Tomb 2 (2019)

The Lost Tomb 2 Poster

This season follows the events of season 1, and while it’s not 100% necessary to have watched it to understand everything, there are consistent references to it, so it’s better to. Especially since it’s only 10 episodes, so it won’t take up too much of your time.

Books Adapted: 2 & 3
Starring: Hou Ming Hao, Cheng Yi, Lin Man
Number of Episodes: 40
My Review: here
PingXie Levels: ★★★★★
HeiHua Levels: ★☆☆☆☆
My Grade: ★★★★☆

2.5. The Lost Tomb 2 – Explore with the Note (2021)

Shot in 2018, this one is the second part of season 2. The cast is mostly different (only Wu San Xing, Xiao Hua and Wang Pang Zi are the same), and in true Lost Tomb logic, the events from the last 4 episodes of The Lost Tomb 2 happen in this one as well (but over the course of a few episodes), so if you’re confused when you start this one, then don’t worry. We all are, it’s perfectly normal.

Books Adapted: 4
Starring: Bai Shu, Zhao Dong Ze
Number of Episodes: 24
My Review: [currently airing]
PingXie Levels: ??
HeiHua Levels: ??
My Grade: ??

3. The Lost Tomb 3 – Ultimate Note (2020)

The Lost Tomb 3 - Ultimate Note Poster

This one picks up after Explore with the Note, which is the second part of season 2. A second season, which will adapt books 8 and 9, should happen in the coming years!

Books Adapted: 5, 6 & 7
Starring: Zeng Shun Xi, Xiao Yu Liang, Hankiz Omar
Number of Episodes: 36
My Review: here
PingXie Levels: ★★★★★
HeiHua Levels: ★★★★★
My Grade: ★★★★☆

[Spin-Off] Tomb of the Sea (2018)

Tomb of the Sea Poster

Tomb of the Sea is a spinoff which takes place 8 years after Ultimate Note. I’m including it in this list because Wu Xie‘s still a main character, even if there’s a new protagonist, a braying high-schooler called Li Cu and played by Wu Lei (Nirvana in Fire, Fights Break Sphere). Personally, I’m only watching it for Wu Xie, a Wu Xie who’s lost sight of himself and his ideals, darkened and jaded, but still the same kind person at his core. Qin Hao does a great job here, but I’ll freely admit that I hate pretty much all the other characters.

From what I understand (I’m still watching it), Pang Zi will make an appearance, and Xiao Ge features in a large number of flashbacks since Wu Xie can’t stop thinking of him.

Starring: Qin Hao, Wu Lei, Xiao Yu Liang, Zhang Min En
Number of Episodes: 52
My Review: [currently watching]
PingXie Levels: ★★★★★
HeiHua Levels: ?
My Grade: [currently watching]

4. Reunion: The Sound of the Providence (2020)

The Lost Tomb Reboot Poster

Alright, so while the official name of this season is Reunion: The Sound of the Providence, the entire thing is complicated enough that I’ll just stick to calling it The Lost Tomb Reboot. A title which is actually quite deceiving, because this is absolutely not a reboot. In fact, the story takes place 10 years after Ultimate Note, so our heroes have grown a bit older (except for Xiao Ge, of course), but their bonds are stronger than ever. Once again, they embark on a quest to try and find Wu San Xing, Wu Xie‘s uncle who, true to his character, got himself into some more trouble.

Starring: Zhu Yi Long, Huang Jun Jie, Chen Ming Hao
Number of Episodes: 62 (32 + 30)
My Review: here [I dropped s2]
PingXie Levels: ★★☆☆☆
HeiHua Levels: ☆☆☆☆☆
My Grade: ★★★★☆ (S1) et ★★★☆☆ (S2)

How Did I Get There?

Yes, how did I get there? For years, I skipped over The Lost Tomb, because tomb-robbing stuff and mummies aren’t really my cup of tea.

The answer is simple: Zhu Yi Long. I’ve been keeping an eye out for him ever since I saw Guardian, and when a fellow dramavore tweeted about him in The Lost Tomb Reboot, I just couldn’t help myself. Especially since I’d liked Huang Jun Jie in Dr. Cutie, so this was a nice opportunity to see him in something very different.

Zhu Yi Long in "Guardian", Huang Jun Jie in "Dr. Cutie"

Once done with the first season of the reboot, I moved right on to The Lost Tomb, which I watched at night after my main drama of the time, The City of Chaos. It helped to distract and relax me after long episodes of tension. I laughed a lot during those ten episodes, and then started The Lost Tomb 2, which was much better and which I loved even though the budget was so badly handled I wanted to cry sometimes.

All in all, I watch The Lost Tomb because it’s fun and I enjoy it. Yes, it has a ton of faults, but it’s certainly not boring, and I’m having a fantastic time with those characters.

The Lost Tomb 3 - Ultimate Note Wu Xie victory

Awards

And as a bonus, here’s my very own little award ceremony.

Best Original Score

The Lost Tomb Reboot

Best CGI

The Lost Tomb Reboot

The Lost Tomb Reboot Corpse

Best PingXie

  1. The Lost Tomb 3 – Ultimate Note
  2. The Lost Tomb 2
The Lost Tomb 3 - Ultimate Note PingXie

Most Emotion

The Lost Tomb 3 – Ultimate Note

The Lost Tomb 3 - Ultimate Note Wu Xie Crying

Most Friendship

The Lost Tomb 3 – Ultimate Note

The Lost Tomb 3 - Ultimate Note Iron Triangle

Best Iron Triangle

(This is about their dynamics, not the cast.)

  1. The Lost Tomb 2
  2. The Lost Tomb 3 – Ultimate Note
  3. The Lost Tomb Reboot
The Lost Tomb Reboot Iron Triangle Gif
Gif by @Ohsehuns

Best Opening Credits

  1. The Lost Tomb Reboot
  2. The Lost Tomb 2
The Lost Tomb 2 Opening

Most Pining

  1. Tomb of the Sea
  2. The Lost Tomb Reboot
Tomb of the Sea Wu Xie Pining

Ugliest Moustache

The Lost Tomb 3 – Ultimate Note

The Lost Tomb 3 - Ultimate Note Xiao Ge Moustache
Three guesses who that finger belongs to, and the first two don’t count.

And that’s a wrap! I hope this guide answers some of your questions and encourages you to dive into this series. It’s a fascinating universe with fantastic characters, so if you have questions or would like me to add another part to this, let me know in the comments!

N/A: All gifs were made by me, except for the two I’ve credited. I archive most of the gifs I make for my reviews here, so if you’d like to use them, please do credit me as well.

Huge thanks to my friend Sakura for her help!

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